Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s comments blaming oversight for cutting interest rates on small savings schemes to an over four-decade low drew flak from the Opposition on social media. The comments came as the government rolled back its decision to lower the rates.
“Really @nsitharaman ‘oversight’ in issuing the order to decrease interest rates on GOI [government of India] schemes or election driven ‘hindsight’ in withdrawing it?” tweeted Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra minutes after the order was withdrawn.
The interest rate on Public Provident Fund was lowered from 7.1% to 6.4%, and that on National Savings Certificates from 6.8% to 5.9% for the June quarter. The Senior Citizens Savings Scheme rate was cut from 7.4% to 6.5%. The rate on Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme, the highest paying small savings instrument, was lowered from 7.6% to 6.9%.
Congress leader Salman Anees Soz took a jibe at the inconsistency of decisions of the minister and tweeted: “I am joining BJP.” In another tweet, Soz said his earlier comment was an “oversight”.
Trinamool Congress lawmaker Mahua Moitra cited Sitharaman’s statement and tweeted: “What is the biggest April Fool’s joke here? That a now-rolled back small savings rate cut was issued by ‘oversight’? Or that Nirmala Sitaraman is Fin Min of this country?”
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala wrote Sitharaman has “no moral right to continue as a finance minister”. “Madam FM [finance minister], Are u running a ‘Circus’ or a ‘Govt’? One can imagine the functioning of economy when such duly approved order affecting crores of people can be issued by an ‘oversight’. Who is the competent authority referred in order?”
In a tweet, former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha said: “I am very sad today. I thought I alone had the monopoly of roll backs. This govt has outdone even me. Labour laws, small savings interest rates are a couple of examples. Roll Back Modi.”
Gopal Agarwal, spokesperson on economic affairs said, “I appreciate the concern of FM Nirmala Sitharaman, interest rate cut for small savings. Post COVID interest income is one of the main source of income for common men. Any reduction is uncalled for. Surely FM will look into the faux pas on the issue by the ministry officials.”